Jun 15, 2018

Weekend sailing on the West Coast of Finland: Kristinestad (Kristiinankaupunki)

As our boat is currently located in Kaskö (Kaskinen) on the West Coast of Finland, we try to use this opportunity to explore cruising areas which are beyond our normal cruising grounds in Southwestern Finland.

We are looking forward to starting our main summer trip right after the Midsummer by sailing first towards north to explore the Kvarken Archipelago (near Vaasa), which is a Unesco heritage site.

The Bothnian Sea coast is located beyond parallel 62° North, which means that the sun sets late and the nights are very light. However, there are less islands than on the southwestern Archipelagos, so the waters are mostly open to the Bothnian Sea. Thus, weather forecasts play bigger role as there is less shelter. Also the waters on the West Coast are quite shallow, which means that it might be difficult to find good natural harbours for a sailing vessel.

Until now, we have made two short weekend trips from Kaskö: the first one was to Kristinestad (Kristiinankaupunki), which is about 15 nautical miles southeast from Kaskinen.

Kristinestad is a small town (population about 6600) on the western coast of Finland

The guest pier close to the town centrum was almost empty in early June

The guest harbour is on the other side of the bay. We stopped there for filling water tanks. 

Jun 6, 2018

Here is Dolphin Dance II: The First Test Day

Now it is official: we will continue our sailing adventures with a slightly bigger (34 ft) boat! Dolphin Dance I is now sold and will continue her adventures under a German flag. I will participate in the delivery trip of our old boat in August, so it's nice for me to be able to sail with the old DD once more.

Our new boat (she will be later renamed as Dolphin Dance II) is made by the same yacht brand as the old DD. However, she will be of different generation as she represents early 21st century sailboat design with shorter fin keel, modern rig and wider beam especially in the aft section.

Dolphin Dance II is a Germán Frers designed Hallberg-Rassy 342 from 2007. She is currently located in the West Coast of Finland, some 200 nautical miles from our home port, so we will be starting this year's holiday trip from there after the Midsummer.

The boat was launched in the end of May and we cast off for the first test sail on the 31st of May. Here are some images on our first test sail with her.


Apr 2, 2018

Hallberg-Rassy 29 for sale (SOLD)

Time flies when you are having fun – we have enjoyed sailing our beloved Hallberg-Rassy 29 “Dolphin Dance” for eight seasons since 2010. She has always taken a good care of us on our trips to Norway, Swedish West Coast, Denmark, The High Coast (Höga Kusten), Estonia, Stockholm Archipelago, Mälaren, Åland Islands and on our home waters in Finland.

Now it is time for us to move on to new adventures with a slightly bigger boat, so we need to find a new home for her. We will let you know about our future plans later on, but now we need your help. Thank you in advance, if you forward this information to someone who might be interested in taking care of her in the future! If you want to sail this beauty in the future, please contact us through e-mail, our Facebook-page or Instagram-account. You can find our sales ad both in English and in Finnish. In this blog, you can find a lot of information, photos and videos about the boat and find out what kind of sailing journeys we have made with her.

More information on this Hallberg-Rassy 29 

Mar 25, 2018

Saariselkä – a Cross-country skiers paradise

Once a year this blog turns into a skiing blog. This March, as in many previous winters, we travelled up north to Lapland for a one-week skiing holiday. This year our destination was Saariselkä. Located close to Ivalo, Saariselkä is the northernmost skiing resort in Europe and although there are some 15 slopes also for downhill skiers, it is mostly a cross-country skiing paradise. During the week, I logged about one hundred kilometres on the skis. As often during the springtime, the weather was mostly sunny during the week, but on the couple of days the weather was particularly good, as the wind stayed calm. This created ideal conditions for skiing on the fells, as the skiing tracks stay open from snow also above the tree line.

The longest trip during the week for me was the Kulmakuru nature skiing track, which is about 30 kilometres long round trip starting from the Saariselkä village. The first part of route is easy as it follows the Tolosjoki river. After that begins a steep three kilometers long climb (vertical climb over 200 meters). The route was definitely worth the effort as nice views open along the way. On the highest point of the track there is an L-shaped canyon (Kulmakuru), which is also worth seeing. It is a good idea to reserve enough time for the route both for having breaks and also for taking plenty of  photographs.  

The Kulmakuru route has only a one narrow track for classic style. 
The easy part of the route follows river for many kilometers.

The steepest part of the climb

Kulmakuru canyon

One of the finest skiing tracks in the world? 

Lapland panorama – unspoilt nature as one can see

Feb 10, 2018

Chartering in St. Vincent and the Grenadines: Safety

We expected that St Vincent and the Grenadines would treat us with guaranteed warm weather, steady trade winds and amazing white sand beaches and deserted palm islands especially at Tobago Cays. However, prior the trip we were also a bit concerned, as the safety situation in SVG was said to be one of the worst in the Lesser Antilles. We followed closely Caribbean Safety and Security Net for most recent information and also other sailing forums and websites (e.g. Noonsite) prior the trip. According to the Safety Net, there has been many thefts, burglaries and even robberies in St Vincent and in the nearby islands in the recent years. Thus, we made a plan to stay in the areas that were considered most safe among the cruising community and avoided spending time on the areas, where there were more reported incidents. In contrary to the Baltic Sea, we did not anchor in lonely bays but seeked most popular anchorages instead. We also avoided spending time on the main island, but headed south to the Grenadines.

Needless to say that the dinghy was kept locked all the time (especially, when leaving it on dock) and all the hatches were locked when not in the boat. We also kept cabin door locked during the night, which we have not felt necessary to do in Europe. When we had access to the Internet, we followed Caribbean Safety Net’s website for most recent information.

After all everything went very well in terms of safety. Of course our very short experience does not warrant any claims that this kind of threats were not still present in this area. However, without prior knowledge of these safety concerns, we would have probably been happily cruising there without noticing too much difference from sailing in Europe. There were a lot of cruising boats in the area during this time of the year, so the risk of theft from the boat seemed to be quite low.

We found St Vincentians to be very welcoming, positive and nice people. ‘Boat boys’ with their small colourful motor boats were a common sight in every popular anchorage and they often offered help to find a free buoy or place to drop the anchor. Especially getting the mooring buoy in strong winds and currents can be tricky with a shorthanded crew so their help was definitely needed. However, they resisted taking money for this service but sold fish, lobsters or beach barbeque dinners instead. We attended one of those barbeques in Tobago Cays and had a great tuna meal on the beach. Another evening at Mayreau, we had a dinner delivered straight to our boat. In this way it is definitely a win-win situation as sailors get help and reasonably priced dinner and locals get customers for their services.

Admiralty Bay in Bequia is popular anchorage among cruising sailors

Local fishermen prepared lobster for beach barbeque

Beach barbeque in Tobago Cays

Feb 4, 2018

Sailing in the Caribbean: Tobago Cays

Tobago Cays Marine Park area contains five uninhabited small islands, several coral reefs and also one larger inhabited island called Mayreau. Tobago Cays was the main destination for our January charter in St Vincent & The Grenadines as we spent two days in the Tobago Cays anchorage and also two additional nights in Mayreau.

Popular among cruising sailors and charter tourists, Tobago Cays Marine Park offers Caribbean postcard landscape with turquoise waters and deserted palm islands. In terms of shelter, the barrier reef gives good protection from the ocean swell, but otherwise the anchorage is open to the full force of Atlantic winds. We experienced this during one night as the highest gusts were about 30 knots during, which created a choppy sea on the anchorage and made the night less peaceful.

Park Rangers collect marine park and mooring fees 

Local wildlife

 Salt Whistle Bay, Mayreau

Jan 24, 2018

Sailing charter in St Vincent and the Grenadines

It has been one week since we came back to north from our vacation in the Caribbean warmth. We got a bit chilly home-coming as the temperature difference from south to north was about 40 degrees Celsius (from +30 C° to -10 C°)!

We got married in April 2017 and wanted our late honeymoon trip to contain the elements of sun, sea, sailing and visiting new places. The last Autumn was very busy for us so the best time of the year to travel was right after the New Year. One of the main reasons to select the Caribbean as a destination was the possibility to charter a small monohull sailing boat, which would be an ideal and economic choice when chartering as a couple. Our initial plan and reservation was made for British Virgin Islands, but the catastrophic events due to the Hurricane Irma changed our plan: the charter boat was lost in BVI and also the hotels that we had booked suffered major damages and had to be closed for this season. Thus, our reservation was changed to St Vincent and the Grenadines, which was a very inspiring but also more challenging sailing destination. We are happy to see, that things seem to be getting forward quickly in BVI and other areas devastated by the 2017 hurricanes and we are looking forward to sailing there hopefully sometime in the future.

First stop Barbados

We flew first to Barbados, which is a transpotational hub in the area with its large international airport. Barbados has many beautiful beaches along the coastline, but it also suffers from negative effects of mass tourism. In that way we enjoyed the genuine Caribbean atmosphere that we found from the islands in the Grenadines. Especially the western coast of Barbados is densely populated and scattered with large hotel areas. However, the good thing in Barbados is that all the beaches are public so you can walk kilometers along the beach.

Chartering from St Vincent

After relaxing for two days, we took a flight to St Vincent, where the Dream Yacht Charter’s base is located. We got the boat on the Saturday 6th of January, but after settling in and getting all the provisioning in place, it was getting late so we decided to stay in the harbour for the night. The Blue Lagoon Marina was actually the only marina where we stayed during the week as in the Grenadines we always used anchor or mooring. The ocean swell found its way to the marina, so the first night was a bit too restless for us. Furthermore, we were not used to living 24/7 in the rolling boat, so it took a while to find our sea legs. However, we used anti-seasickness medication during the first days and that helped to keep the seasickness away.

The first leg on Sunday was a short one to nearby Bequia where the town of Port Elizabeth, located in the Admiralty Bay, is one of the best and most popular anchorages and natural harbours in the area. We anchored in the five meters' depth with a good holding for the night.

On Monday, we continued to Tobago Cays area, which was the main destination for the trip. We first looked for mooring from Salt Whistle Bay in Mayreau, but as all the moorings were taken, we continued to another anchorage in the island, Saline Bay.

On the following day it was time to continue to nearby Tobago Cays Marine Park, where we would spend two nights. More about that in my next blog post.

Our Charter boat Jeanneau Sun Odyssey 349

The first leg to Bequia was less than ten nautical miles

Saline Bay, Mayreau 

View from Mayreau